Paramilitary soldiers and police at a bomb site in Karachi. An explosion targeting the convoy of Sindh High Court judge Maqbool Baqir occurred near Karachi’s Burns Road. Image Credit: Reuters

Karachi: Taliban bombs in Pakistan on Wednesday killed 12 people and wounded 14 others, including a senior judge seriously injured in Karachi, officials said.

Judge Maqbool Baqir, who has worked on a series of terrorism cases, was targeted by a bomb that killed at least nine people on a busy street during the morning rush hour.

Baqir is a member of Pakistan’s minority Shiite Muslim community and had been threatened by militants, including hardline Sunni Muslim sectarian outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has claimed a series of devastating bomb attacks on Shiites.

The bomb, planted on a parked motorbike, exploded as Baqir drove past with his security detail towards the provincial High Court, in Burns Road, in the centre of the city.

Police said a remote control device was used to detonate six kilogrammes of explosives.

The bomb, containing steel balls and nails, ripped through the police and paramilitary rangers’ vehicles.

At least nine people, including eight members of the judge’s security detail, were killed and 14 other people wounded.

Baqir’s driver died on the spot.

Deputy Inspector-General of police Ameer Shaikh, told Gulf News that four deaths had been reported initially.

“The dead [now] include six police officers, two (paramilitary) Rangers and the judge’s driver,” Shaikh said.

Baqir was taken to Aga Khan Hospital with critical injuries, but was said to be out of danger by early evening.

“He received threats from the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Other militants had also threatened him,” Shaikh said.

Baqir has worked on several cases involving militants, serving as a judge in special anti-terrorism courts set up in Pakistan to hand down quick judgements in terror cases.

Senior police officer, Umar Khatab, said the judge had received serious threats from banned militant groups, including Lashkare Jhangvi, Tehreeke Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other organisations.

Baqir has been a constant target for dealing with trials involving high-profile militants.

A TTP spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack adding that the judge was handing down “anti-Taliban and anti-mujahideen” verdicts.

The spokesman warned that the judiciary would be targeted in future too for its anti-Islamic and unjust verdicts.

The blast also caused considerable damage to nearby buildings and two mosques. Witnesses said the blast was so intensive that it was heard from miles away. Funeral prayers for the six policemen were offered at the police headquarters.

Sindh Bar Council president Mahmoodul Hassan condemned the attack and announced a boycott of the court proceedings Wednesday to register the protest.

Governor Sindh Ishratul Ibad Khan ordered an inquiry into the incident and urged for security to be beefed up in the city. Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain in a statement condemned the attack adding that it was a blatant act of terrorism.

Security officials said that Malik Hashim Khan supported an army operation in the area, part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Afghanistan, in 2007-08.

“It was a powerful bomb which destroyed the vehicle completely. Malik Hashim, his brother and nephew died on the spot,” a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A second official said the dead bodies were destroyed beyond recognition.

Pakistan has for years been fighting homegrown Taliban insurgents in its border areas with Afghanistan.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s umbrella Taliban movement, Tehreek-e-Taliban, claimed responsibility for both attacks.

“We claim responsibility for the attack on the judge because he used to give verdicts against Islam and Muslims,” Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP from an undisclosed location.

“Taliban also attacked the head of the pro-government militia in Bannu because he joined hands with the government against the mujahideen,” he added.

- With inputs from AFP